Parents come out to support P.E.I. students protesting treatment of girls in schools

·2 min read
The demonstration was in support of a group of students who walked out of class earlier this week to protest gender-based discrimination. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
The demonstration was in support of a group of students who walked out of class earlier this week to protest gender-based discrimination. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

A group of parents held a demonstration in Charlottetown on Friday in support of female high school students speaking out against gender-based discrimination.

People assembled beside University Avenue for the second time this week, after students staged a class walkout to protest how complaints about sexual harassment are being handled in school.

The previous demonstration was organized by female students from Charlottetown Rural and Colonel Gray high schools, who say they're being treated differently than boys and that their complaints often go unheard.

This one was led by parents, a lot of whom have children who participated in the walkout.

They say now is the time for change.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

"Probably every woman here has experienced some kind of sexual harassment or worse," said Susan Ayre, one of the parents.

"I see in these girls a generation who [isn't] going to tolerate it, which is great, and hopefully a willingness for everybody to shift the onus away from the girls and where it needs to be, which of course is on men and boys."

'Powerful'

Melissa Farrar was at the protest with her daughter, Reegan Perry. Farrar said she was really proud these students are taking action.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"It's powerful, really, for girls this age to have such a strong voice, and I've always encouraged them to be outspoken, to be able to express themselves and to be brave," she said. "This just displays that."

"I think these girls are incredibly brave for standing up for what's right and for making change happen. That's how it's done," said Tracy Simpson.

Simpson said a group of parents and their supporters have submitted a letter to the education minister, asking for an independent third party to handle these kind of complaints to ensure they're taken seriously.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

The Public School Branch issued a new statement on the walkouts, saying it sheds a light on systemic issues that exist in its schools and society as a whole.

It says it is forming a committee made out of school staff, students and parents to address the concerns.

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